A positive future? What Britain could look like in 30 years

Anthropy is all about being optimistic, said John O’Brien, as he introduced the Future of Britain talk at the three-day event at the Eden Project.

“We’ve got to have hope,” he says, “because without that, we have no future.”

He was proposing a question to the panel and audience: what do we want Britain to look like in 30 years? Here’s a snapshot of what they said.

A transparent media

Kamal Ahmed, founder of The News Movement, focused on how we can reinvent journalism. “How do we reinvent it? People are not engaging with the present offers they are seeing – it’s not for them,” he said.

“I do feel optimistic. I want to see journalism resurrected for those audiences. If we don’t have trusted, non-partisan journalism which allows us to develop conversations about solutions as well as holding power to account, we lose a fundamental part of democracy.

“We need new offers alongside brilliant journalism that is about engagement, solutions, onward journeys – and that’s true for younger audiences.”

A sense of hope

Kelly Beaver MBE, from Ipsos Mori, said: “We understand how the British public think and feel.”

When they asked the question what makes you proud to be British, it’s the NHS, the history, and our British institutions that came out on top. They’re proud of our contribution to scientific discovery, she says, including Covid and the climate crisis.

But, says Kelly, two in five people believe children will have worst lives than their parents have, and seven out of 10 of us believe our country is going in the wrong direction. “We need a sense of hopefulness about our place in the world,” she says.

“Leaders have a role in creating a sense of hope. There is a responsibility as a leader to create a sense of pathway to change.”

An investment in sport

Annamarie Phelps, from IWG on Women and Sport, says Team GB is the second most loved brand in the UK, to the NHS.

“Sport brings people together,” says Annamarie. “It raises a nation’s feelings and brings them together, but it also transforms lives and communities – as well as having the opportunity to change society if we use it in the right way.”

In the next 30 years, she says, we should invest and encourage more women and children to participate in sport. “Sport and physical activity will save the NHS,” she says.

“If, in 30 years, we have a community and a society that does stay active, it will reduce mental health issues, help reduce those suffering from heart disease, and more. If sport were a drug, it would be a miracle cure.”

But, she says, sport needs to transform and step up in the right direction – as well as achieving more gender quality – to become the fantastic tool it can be used for.

“There’s a lot of work sports needs to do but I believe we can get there. Sport is the future of this country and we will all benefit.”

A more equitable society

Bina Mehta has been at KPMG for over 30 years – in that time, she says, so much has changed.

“Looking forward, what I want for my kids, is a Britain that is thriving, not just surviving,” she says. “We need a Britain where people, business and communities can do well.

“We want to be part of a connected world, but living in a country where there is access to opportunity that is better balanced around the country and within communities.

“If we think about what divides us, I would like to see more commonality around us, rather than division.”

Smiley News is a media partner of Anthropy.


Could this ‘Glastonbury for Good’ truly make a difference?’

It’s been dubbed a ‘Glastonbury for Good’ – but scrap the tents, and instead picture yourself at the Eden Project in Cornwall. 

The epic global garden – dubbed the ‘eighth wonder of the world’ by some – is, this November, home to Anthropy: what its founder, John O’Brien calls a “launchpad for change”.

Anthropy, which takes place from 2 – 4 November, is a gathering of people who have influence, who have a desire to change how our world operates, and a thirst for good. 

“We’re looking at the longer-term vision of our world,” John O’Brien MBE tells me. “We’re thinking, actually, we need to be able to hand this bit of the world on in a better state than we inherited ourselves. It’s really about trying to help shape what younger people, and their children, are likely to inherit.”

Anthropy was a lockdown lightbulb moment for John. In January 2021, after spending 30 years in business, he looked back on the first year of Covid – the loss of life, the damaged economy – and thought we could do better. “I thought, we need a national forum where we can build back better,” he says.

“I thought, we need a national forum where we can build back better.”

John thought about Davos, and the fact global leaders go there and have important, powerful conversations. He wanted to create that space here in the UK. He made two what he calls “risky” decisions, after sharing his ideas with people he trusted: one was to host the event in Cornwall, not London, and the other was to crowdsource the agenda. 

“Over 12 months, I had 200 organisations looking at what we wanted to talk about to move forward our thinking,” he says. “It was the largest ever crowdsourced agenda in the UK, that has led to 160 sessions with 300 speakers over 14 stages at the Eden Project.”

So what are John’s hopes for Anthropy and beyond?

“It’s not just the event, it’s the impact that comes out of it,” he says.

“I want people to come away thinking they’ve seen something and listening to something inspiring, or spoken to people they wouldn’t have otherwise had the chance to interact with.”

John hopes people will go away and change the way in which they do things – whether that’s in their community, or leading an organisation. “I want people to go back and try and influence and make an impact,” he adds. 

“The thing that most interested me is reflecting upon what will be the outcome – and to see that change happen.”

This article aligns with the UN SDG Partnership for the Goals.


With just over £5k, these kids’ lives changed forever

Four days, a little over £5k in donations, and a team hard at work – that’s exactly how these toilets and taps were transformed for kids in Nepal.

Let’s be honest, we don’t often see the direct impact our charity donations have had, but for the supporters of Child Rescue Nepal, it became super clear how needed the funds were.

The charity has worked in Nepal since 1999, Joanna Bega, the CEO in the UK tells me. All the staff are Nepalian, bar her and an assistant she has to help with the fundraising. 

So what do they actually do? 

Well, their aim is quite simple – and very powerful. “We rescue children who have been trafficked in Nepal,” says Joanna. “ We have a good track record of reuniting them with families and getting them back to school.”

A big part of their work is prevention, working in a Nepalian district prone to trafficking and sending staff on the ground into schools to do teacher training, renew school equipment, and give education boundaries.

“Every now and then, they’ll come back from a visit and say they’ve seen something quite shocking,” says Joanna. 

This is exactly what happened with the pictures above.

“They said the toilets were horrific, sent me a video, and it was just super grim – it was horrible,” says Jo.

Clean and viable toilets and taps are hugely important for children’s education. The charity’s wider work has shown having decent toilets with running water is a big factor in children attending school – and if they attend school, they’re less likely to be trafficked. “Some statistics we’ve had show running water at a school can increase attendance by 30%,” says Joanna. 

In hot countries like Nepal, schools without water suffer. Teachers spend half their time fetching water, and therefore not teaching. Water really can become a huge hindrance, as well as help, in terms of education. This is especially true for girls – if they don’t have decent toilets, they won’t come to school on their period, which is five days lost every single month. “Girls having an education is really important in Nepal in terms of their future employability,” adds Joanna. 

On 4 February, Child Rescue Nepal put out an appeal to raise £5,667 for the new toilet block and taps at this school. Children had been going to the toilets in bushes, not washing their hands, and getting sick as a result. By 8 February, their target had been reached. 

The team shared videos with their donors along the way of the progress – and the money was hugely well spent. “Donations we receive really go on things that make a difference,” says Joanna.

Their most recent appeal was for two new classrooms to be built – a project they’re underway with. 

If you want to do one small thing to help? Sign up to their newsletter, says Joanna, and be the first to hear about their appeals for support to truly make a difference. 

This article aligns with the UN SDG Clean Water and Sanitation and Quality Education.


Meet Yasmin Benoit, the UK’s award-winning asexual activist

Out of all the letters in LGBTQIA+, the ‘A’ is one of the ones which often gets forgotten. Still a novel concept to many outside the LGBTQIA+ community, ‘asexuality’ – a lack of sexual attraction to others – is perhaps dismissed the most in a world that revolves around sexual attraction.

Yasmin Benoit, 26, activist, heavy metal fan, lingerie model and cake hater, feels very differently. From a young age, she knew she didn’t feel romantic or sexual attraction in the same way her peers did – but it took until her mid-teen years to discover the term ‘asexual’ on the internet… and even longer to decide if it applied to her.

Now? She’s partnered with one of the largest LGBT rights charities in the UK and is working tirelessly to make a difference.

Combatting stereotypes from a young age

“I was largely unsuccessful in coming out until I was about 22,” explains Yasmin, who had tried to come out as asexual to family and friends before. “And the only reason people believed me that time was because it was printed in a two-page spread in the Metro newspaper.”


Since coming out, Yasmin has worked tirelessly to not only raise awareness of asexuality in mainstream media but also to fight the stereotypes that come along with it.

As a black lingerie model, she already doesn’t fit the stereotype of an asexual or aromantic person – something she’s acutely aware of. 

“The people who are most likely to identify as being asexual in particular … tend to be Gen Z. They tend to be in the UK or the US. They tend to be white,” explains Yasmin.

Even within the LGBTQIA+ community, there are stereotypes about asexual people, though some are a little more lighthearted. “In the ACE community, there’s a whole thing about how if you’re asexual you must like cake,” laughs Yasmin. “Honestly, the food I like the least is cake. I don’t know where that comes from. I don’t like cake.”

Ultimately, her decision to come out as AroAce and become an activist had nothing to do with wanting to air her private life on the internet, and all to do with her desire to make a difference in the world.

Becoming an activist to make a change

“It felt hypocritical of me, as someone who had a platform, to complain I wasn’t seeing any kind of representation out there that I could relate to,” explains Yasmin, of why she became an activist. “My initial motivation was just to kind of throw a spanner in the works and see what I could contribute. I didn’t expect it to become anything bigger than that.”

Once she saw people were interested, she understood why they were interested: because they felt like they needed more voices and they felt like there needed to be more awareness. “That kept motivating me to do it and made me understand just how impactful it can be,” she says.

Charity partnerships for a better future

Since coming out as asexual and beginning her activist career, Yasmin has helped to launch the world’s first official International Asexuality Day, which took place on April 6, 2021. In June 2021, Yasmin won the Attitude Pride Award for her activism, making her the first openly asexual-aromantic person to win an LGBTQIA+ award.

Since then, Yasmin has partnered with Stonewall to launch the UK’s first-ever asexual rights initiative. The Stonewall x Yasmin Benoit Ace Project works to research the problem of ACE discrimination in the UK, in the hopes of making this a better, and more accepting world.

Research conducted as part of this initiative will build a picture of ACE communities’ experiences, needs, and priorities for change, with a focus on employment, healthcare, and education. “Our findings will be launched in a report which will provide a clear set of actions for policymakers, companies, and charities to better support ace people,” says Stonewall. Find out more about the partnership.

This article aligns with the UN SDG Reduced Inequalities.


At this club night, you pay with food and toiletries

Picture this: thousands of people queueing up for a club night in Manchester, but instead of having cash in their wallets, they’re carrying bags with tinned food and essential toiletries.

To get inside, you give a minimum donation of five items. Food bank volunteers are on the door collecting everything before people head in for an evening of bass music.

It’s called ‘Food for Thought’ – the night-turned-festival that aims to raise hundreds of kgs in food donations to local food banks, plus send any profits to local charities.

Rich Reason, 40, who has been a promoter in the north of England for 20 years, is the brainchild behind it. His events, HIT & RUN, have gathered steam as one of the most respected bass music promoters in Manchester. But in 2015, Rich wanted to do more.

“Helping others, it’s how my parents raised me,” he says. “A lot of my early memories are doing fundraisers with my mum for the local hospital – I admired my parents, they’ve done a lot for others, and I just knew the need was there.”

Mixing music with purpose started long before Food for Thought for Rich. In 2001, he ran a club night at university, which raised money for African schools. “I’ve always done these nights in the past, but what was obvious to me was that this was needed closer to home,” he says. 

“Manchester has been a good home to me – I think it’s a chance to give back and bring together talented musicians who want to be generous to their city.”

May 2022 was the most recent Food for Thought event, having run it annually for the past seven years. They donated 700kg worth of food and toiletries, £440 in cash, and raised another £4,344 for Médecins Sans Frontières (Doctors Without Borders).

“It’s just got bigger every year,” Rich tells Smiley News. Originally starting as a club night, the last four incarnations of Food for Thought have been day festivals. 

“The great thing about Manchester all the artists are very community-minded,” says Rich, “and we have people willing to play for free.

“People connect with the idea that they can queue up with pasta, beans and pot noodles,” continues Rich, “there’s a funny image of people in the queue with bags and shopping – a lot of people buy tickets and still bring food.”

An unexpected benefit of running the nights is getting to know the people who work at the food banks, says Rich, as well as getting an insight into their work, their situation, and why these banks are so needed. “Because the demand for them is only getting worse,” he adds. 

“There are more food banks in this country than McDonald’s, which is a frightening statistic,” explains Rich. “In 2010, 10,000 people needed food banks. In 2022, that figure is closer to three million. Everyone is feeling the pinch so much – and these food banks keep running out of food.”

Over the years, donations have gone to local food banks including Salford, Manchester Central, as well as some additional fundraising for the Trussell Trust. 

Will Food for Thought continue? “I’ll certainly keep on doing this every year,” says Rich. Some people are more cynical about where their charity money goes now, he adds, “but there’s no way anyone thinks I’m sat at home on a mountain of baked beans!” 

This article aligns with the UN SDG Zero Hunger and No Poverty.


This 26-year-old racked up 1.6m followers cleaning US beaches

A tattoo of the state of Florida on his hand represents his home, and the place he began his project. At 26, Caulin Donaldson has a following of millions, simply from picking up trash. 

“It started with me filming on Instagram, just yelling at trash like ‘who’s doing this?’ And then I got a lot of my friends from high school saying ‘bro, this is good. Keep talking about this,’” he tells Smiley News.

“And that’s when I was like, ‘okay,’ so this is something people want to hear about at the very least.”

So, he carried on. First YouTube videos – despite not getting many views – before moving onto TikTok. To date, Caulin has more than 1.5 million followers, showing his attempts to clean up beaches and other nature every day – something he’s done every day for three years now. 

“Initially, I went for 500 days straight,” he says. “After that, I was like let me just take a break. I ended up still picking up trash every day, I just didn’t make the videos about it. And then when I started this year, I was like, ‘Okay, it’s January 1, let me see if I could just do the year’.

“It’s so much fun that there are new things to talk about. There are old issues that need to get resolved. It’s constantly keeping me engaged.”

To keep up the consistency Caulin starts his days early, making it out to the beach in the morning. “I like to be on the beach while the sun is rising because there’s something about just watching the sky,” he says. “The clouds change colors and hearing the waves crash and just silence for like a good 10 minutes. It really gets you in the right headspace.”

After getting into his mindset for the day, he plans out the videos he’s going to make, and what type of trash he’s going to be on the lookout for. While he’s watching the sunrise, he’ll keep an eye out for what’s on the beach already. Caulin even likes to get his audience involved. 

“Sometimes I’ll do a trash list where my audience will comment different items they want to see me try and find or sometimes I’ll just see what’s popular recently like turtle safety and sea turtle protection and conservation,” he explains. 

After grabbing his trash for the day, he heads home to get his videos up. The work itself has afforded him the opportunity to have his voice heard on a larger scale too, even having companies listen to what he has to say. “I’ve been having opportunities to speak more about how companies can be more sustainable here locally and more ways that we can find more green initiatives internally for small businesses here,” he says. 

All the work he’s putting in is serving as a way for young people to learn about protecting the planet. “I love to look at what I’m doing as a gateway into sustainability for a younger audience, and also just more broadly, showing, educating through action and entertainment on ways that you could get started,” Caulin says. 

“One of the last campaigns that I did this year I noticed that there was a ton of plastic toys on the beach so I ended up making a video asking ‘what can we do about this?’”

Keeping his audience a part of his work, Caulin turned to them. “My audience was like, ‘let’s make a toy box.’ So I made a toy box, but I had to go through city hall, and I had to like, propose this ordinance and I created this petition,” Caulin says. “It started with, ‘Oh, I’m picking up all this trash,’ and now I feel like I’m actually having an impact in how people engage in their local communities and are actually shifting their view on ways that they could live and, and push a more sustainable planet.”

“Even though this issue is so big it’s extremely important to me that we are tapping into these young minds and meeting them where they’re at and helping them because they’re going to have the heaviest eco-anxiety of all the generations so far.”

This article aligns with the UN SDGs Climate Action; Life Below Water; and Life on Land.


Couple saves hundreds of bird from Ian

Hurricane Ian decimated entire parts of the west coast of Florida. Weeks later, some areas in the region are without power following massive flooding and destruction.

As first responders have been distributing aid and getting to people and places who need the most help, many animals have been left at the wayside.

But that’s something that Will Peratino and his partner Lauren Stepp couldn’t do, making a plan to rescue their two lemurs and flock of 275 parrots.

The couple was urged to evacuate their home on Pine Island due to widespread damage to roads, supply lines, and other infrastructure due to the hurricane but they wouldn’t do it without their animals, so “Operation Noah’s Ark” was started to help catch, cage, and ferry all of them to safety. 

“We would not abandon them. I would never leave them. Never,” said Stepp, as volunteers worked on collecting the flock from dozens of coops at the Malama Manu Sanctuary. “If they cannot be fed or watered, they will die. And I can’t live with that.”

The bird’s food supply was beginning to run low as the downed bridges in the area made resource shipments next to impossible. Getting them off the island was going to help them survive. 

Many of the birds came from homes that could no longer care for them, as most are rare or exotic birds that people took in as pets.

An unintended positive of “Project Noah’s Ark” is other animals finding refuge with the rescuers. Bryan Stern, the founder, and leader of Project Dynamo, which found four boats for the mission, said his team has rescued at least six dogs, and three cats, and before Tuesday’s massive rescue, three birds.

Project Dynamo previously aided people trying to evacuate flooded areas and eventually helped support the mission. 

Inspired to act?

DONATE: If you want to help support people impacted by Hurricane Ian you can donate to Global Giving and their hurricane relief fund.

SUPPORT: Support local animal shelters and agencies trying to take care of animals without homes or shelters.


The first football team of Type 1 diabetes players

When Chris Bright was diagnosed with Type 1 diabetes in 1999, his initial reaction was dismay. But soon after, he channeled his feelings into driving positive change for others coping with the disease.

As a lifelong fan of football and fitness, Chris created the world’s first football team consisting entirely of players with Type 1 diabetes.

This incredible achievement didn’t come easy. Chris acknowledges the work it took for him to get to where he is today – and the work it takes every day to maintain his illness and be as healthy as he can.

Now, his story is inspiring others, through the work of We Are Undefeatable, a charity partnership campaign, which promotes the benefits of sport for individuals with chronic conditions.

Diabetes UK is one of the leading charities supporting the campaign, alongside others including Age UK, Mind, Asthma and Lung UK, and the Stroke Association. 

The campaign helps those with long-term health conditions do more exercise and experience numerous benefits as a result. Exercise can help tackle loneliness and depression, in addition to the many physical health benefits.

For Chris, playing football regularly gave him time to get away from the realities and responsibilities of his illness. “Not only did it give me that escape but it was also a positive experience which allowed me to show that my condition would never define my capabilities,” he said.

Diabetes UK is keen to share the benefits that exercise can have on people with diabetes. Not only does exercise help with insulin sensitivity, but it lowers blood pressure, helping to prevent diabetes complications that can be caused by this.

More information on diabetes can be found on the Diabetes UK website.

Inspired to act?

DONATE: Support Diabetes UK by donating on their website.

VOLUNTEER: Join Diabetes UK by volunteering.

SUPPORT: Register to support the We Are Undefeatable campaign on their website.

GET INVOLVED: Join Diabetes UK at fundraising events.


Ashley Brundage brings empowerment to the business world

Cultivating diversity and understanding is becoming increasingly important every day. With an increasing spotlight on issues like trans rights and the Black Lives Matter Movement, people are becoming aware of their station in life and the people around them. 

On the same note, businesses are starting to make an effort to be more inclusive and diverse in their hiring practices and trying to create a sense of inclusion among their employees – no matter their background.

One of the people leading the charge for that type of work is Ashley Brundage, who works and researches diversity and inclusion in the business world.

Ashley is a trans woman and has lived a full life, experiencing harassment, discrimination, and even homelessness. Today, she uses that experience to shape her worldview and work.

“Intersectionality really mattered to me because there were rooms I would walk into to try to find that job and people would call the cops on me,” Ashley tells Smiley News. “I was like, ‘wow, they have a real big problem with my gender difference.’ As a certain gender minority, being a woman of transgender experience, I had to figure out how I was going to gain their confidence and gain their trust in order for them to say yes, we want you to work for us.”

And so she got to work, working to empower people of all different backgrounds, looking for the intersections of the diversity of human experience and how it shapes our experience in the workplace.

“I went way down the rabbit hole because I started realizing that some of my differences already had natural empowerment towards them, like being a white person in America,” Ashley says. “So my race and my ethnicity had some advantages in the workplace, and my career journey but then there are others like being homeless, soo my socio-economic class was affecting me.”

After discovering all this, she got to work on a way for people to lead that would lead to the most equity among people.

“I came up with was a leadership model and a process to support all people to empower all of their differences that they have and that served me really,” she says.

She started a job at PNC Bank and within three years was the National Vice President of Diversity Equity and Inclusion. 

But Ashley kept with her research, eventually working on that and PNC concurrently. When she published her research paper, she got to work on her business Empowering Differences

“I work with tons of organizations helping them better understand empowerment, doing a leadership development cohort program,” she says. “And I recently launched my new digital empowerment tracking tool. So in a minute and a half, I can do an anonymous assessment of how empowered people are for their differences.”

The focus is for businesses to hit certain markers in something Ashley calls DEI or diversity, equity, and inclusion. 

She even helps internationally, working directly with multiple chambers of commerce including the UK LGBTQ Chamber of Commerce. Even though she’s a trans woman, she still puts a focus on all intersections of diversity. 

“I address LGBTQ plus issues and bring visibility for the trans community,” Ashley says. “But also my research is about the empowerment of all the differences we have. Of course, I also bake intersectionality into that as well.”

In general, through her work, Ashley wants to help people feel more empowered and more comfortable in their own skin. 

“Ultimately, you put a smile on someone’s face through empowerment,” she says. “It’s the ultimate connection for us as humans and people want that like it’s so much more positivity through our positive framing.”

If you want to check out more of her research please do! And in the meantime be respectful of the differences of the people around you.

This article aligns with the UN SDG Partners of the Goals.


Larry Brinker Jr. works to revitalize Detroit

Sometimes helping your community is a family business, something Larry Brinker Jr. takes great heart in trying to help improve Detroit.

Detroit as a city is one built on industry and perseverance. After automakers began leaving the United States in droves, cities like Detroit spun into economic turmoil. The people living there didn’t have nearly as many options when it came to working. 

The city fell into disrepair for a long time but has begun an economic upswing thanks to people like Larry, who took inspiration from his father when it came to giving back to his community.

“My father started the business in 1989,” Larry tells Smiley News. “And through his hard work, he actually paved the way for me, going back to one of the first major projects that the company ever won which was a major project in Detroit back in the late 80s, and 89.”

Brinker has been a part of over $4 billion worth of revitalization and construction projects throughout Detroit to try and transform and bring the city back to its former heights.

After living through some of the worst points in the city, Larry just wanted to help turn the city’s fortunes around. 

“There was a lot of corruption going on in the city, people and businesses were leaving,” Larry says. “We had an economic downturn in 2008 or 2009 and made it even worse. So after seeing all of that it really inspired me to help bring about as much change as I can to help get people back into the area.”

Now, he just loves being able to walk through Detroit and see the work he’s helped accomplish.

Scholarships for struggling children

On a smaller scale, Brinker helps local kids with business mentorship and provides scholarships to those that struggle to pay for school. 

“I understand that if a child has an opportunity, that can really help to change the trajectory of their life,” Larry says. “And so as much as possible, what I tried to do was offer my time and mentorship, but then also through sharing the financial blessing or blessings that I’ve received by creating scholarships.”

One such scholarship is a Covid legacy scholarship that helped kids that may have lost a parent to the pandemic. 

In general, Larry just wants to represent the city that he grew up in and give back to it in whatever way he can.

“The thing that I love about Detroit is that it’s always been a hard-working blue-collar down to earth city in a way where people take pride in working hard people will take pride in doing the right thing,” Larry says.

This article aligns with the UN SDG Sustainable Cities and Communities.